Cycling and Weight Loss

April 10th, 2012 by Biky Nick

Many novice and would-be cyclists come to me and cry, “Nick, Nick, please tell me, is it true that cycling can cause weight loss?”

I understand the heart-felt pain behind the question. Having read many alarming articles in newspapers both in print and on-line about the link between diabetes and the sedentary lifestyle, it comes easy to the human mind to turn this on its head and surmise that activity will cause weight loss.

Let me begin with some reassurance to put your mind at ease: cycling in and of itself will not cause weight loss, so there is no need to put your new bicycle back in the shed and begin walking again for fear of ending up looking like a gangly Tour de France cyclist with overly pronounced varicose veins.

The primary methods by which you maintain your weight are eating and drinking to supply the calories coming in, and activity to take the calories out. However, ‘activity’ is rather broadly defined here, because the vast majority of calories you take in are expended by a process called ‘living’ which is also referred to as your Base Metabolic Rate. Say you are a well-built lad of 6 foot tall and weighing in at 15 stone. Say your walk to the pub, or work, or wherever it is you walk, and back (at half an hour each way) would cost you about 300 calories. Now that you have your bike, you can do the same journey in 1/3 of the time, so for the same distance, you would only be expending 170 calories. If this does not reassure you, please also bear in mind that you will have an extra 40 minutes in the pub — go ahead and have an extra pint, which will give you an extra 180 calories which more than covers the expense of getting there. Also note that just sitting on your settee for an hour expends nearly 200 calories, and if you combine that with some vigorous eating, you are almost using as much as you would be if you spent the time cycling.

As you can see, you need not dread the dreaded weight loss as a result of cycling, so you can go right ahead and come to my shop to buy yourself that bike you have promised yourself for so long.

Please note that where the word ‘calories’ is used, ‘kilo-calories (kCal)’ is meant. This to remain in line with the common confusing usage you will find everywhere despite ‘Joules (J)’ having been designated the SI unit for energy output since Napoleonic days.

Posted in All, Healthy | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

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